MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
When A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots need to accomplish the mission as quickly as possible, Airmen use one critical method to turn the aircraft and get pilots back in the sky.
The 23d Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oils and lubricants flight and the 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs use hot pits to refuel aircraft without shutting the engine down, increasing operation speeds and preparing Airmen to go downrange.
“We’re able to put gas in it so the airplane can take off, get back up there, and do whatever it is our joint terminal attack controllers or security forces personnel on the ground downrange need them to do,” said Tech. Sgt. James Brantley, 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft NCO in charge. “That’s what we’re training for. How can we be more lethal and faster as a force?”
Training for hot pits prepares Airmen to perform what they have practiced when the time to deploy arises. When hot pits occurs, the aircraft lands, receives quick safety checks, receives fuel and returns to the sky.
“The aircraft will come down to cursory, where they’ll check for things such as turbine engine monitoring systems codes and the [status of the] auxiliary power unit,“ Brantley said. “When the aircraft comes to us, it’s literally a turn and burn. It gets gas, we send them back up, and they’re on another mission.”
In addition to crew chiefs, it takes a small team of POL Airmen and a fuel truck to complete the refueling segment of hot pits. The fuel truck operator monitors the distribution of the fuel measured by gauges on the truck.
“We provide subject matter expertise for the fuel truck, so if anything happens to the truck, we rectify that problem,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Forehand, 23d LRS Forward Area Refueling Point team chief. “It’s a teaming concept between [fuels and maintenance]. We provide fuel support and tell them when the aircraft tank is full. They wouldn’t be able to do hot pits without the refueling truck out there.”
Hot pits training occurs approximately four times a week to help Airmen become more proficient and familiarize themselves with the procedures essential to safe operations downrange.
“It just depends on the mission, but it’s one of those things you’d like to have in your back pocket in case things got really bad,” Brantley said. “When everyone gets used to it, it becomes second nature, and everything runs a lot smoother. You’re not as confused when you get downrange and bullets are flying, bombs are going off - you still know what you’re doing.”
For pilots, hot pits is an easier and more efficient way to get fuel, allowing them to complete more missions without having to shut down, and complete pre-flight and post-flight inspections.
“As an experienced pilot, I have to get eight sorties a month,” said Capt. Aaron Seyfried, 74th Fighter Squadron pilot. “[Hot pits] just makes everything move faster, so we can get more sorties accomplished in a day. Especially in the winter when the days are short, it helps us get more training accomplished during daylight hours.”
Pilots are responsible for accomplishing multiple missions downrange. With the employment of hot pit refueling, it expedites their time on the ground, allowing them to get back in the fight faster.